Does California's new law requiring women on boards help or hurt diversity? | The Tylt

Does California's new law requiring women on boards help or hurt diversity?

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that “requires at least one female director on the board of each California-based public corporation by the end of [2019],” per the Associated Press. Supporters of the measure say it will lead to more diverse perspectives in companies' leadership, while also triggering a decrease in sexual harassment in the workplace. Opponents of the new law argue the state has no business influencing boardroom members, and could actually increase discrimination. What do you think?  

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As usual, California becomes the first state to move towards progress; this time, aiming for gender equality. The AP reports: 

California has become the first state to require publicly traded companies to include women on their boards of directors.

This new law is one of several signed by Brown, making it clear that the state is tired of simply discussing topics relating to gender equality and wants to take action instead. In addition to this law, Brown also: 

...approved legislation requiring smaller employers to provide sexual harassment training and banning secret settlements related to sexual assault and harassment.
Brown’s actions come as the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct led to a reckoning nationwide that has ousted men from power...The author of the California measure on corporate boards, SB 826, said she believes having more women in power could help reduce sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.
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Regardless of the governor's good intent, the California Chamber of Commerce stands in stark opposition to the new law, saying: 

...the policy will be difficult for companies to implement and violates constitutional prohibitions against discrimination.

From the Chamber of Commerce's perspective, the government has no business mandating the "composition of corporate boards." According to the chamber, by prioritizing gender, the law minimizes other aspects of diversity like race and ethnicity. The AP reports that senior vice president for policy at the chamber Jennifer Barrera said of the new policy: 

'It creates a challenge for a board on achieving broader diversity goals.'
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The law represents huge progress for women in business, given that a fourth of publicly-held companies based in California don't have any women on their boards of directors, according to state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.


The Los Angeles Times reported on Jackson's "fiery" speech to the floor of the California Senate. There, she told senators: 

'We are not going to ask any more. We are tired of being nice. We’re tired of being polite. We are going to require this because it’s going to benefit the economy. It’s going to benefit each of these companies...It’s time that we burst that man-cave and put women in the boardrooms.'

California is following an existing precedent set by other countries. In 2007, Norway required that 40% of corporate board seats be held by women, and Germany passed a similar mandate in 2015

According to Anne Staines, the statewide president of the National Association of Women Business Owners: 

'Adding women board members to our public corporations will help advance family-friendly policies in the workplace and bring California one step closer to gender equity.'
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However, Norway's quota has resulted in little beneficial change for women in lower levels of business, and the same is likely for California–that is, if the law isn't proved unconstitutional first. The New York Times's Andrew Ross Sorkin writes: 

The most serious issue is that California’s law could turn out to be unconstitutional. The State Legislature’s own analysis warned that it 'would likely be challenged on equal protection grounds, and the means that the bill uses, which is essentially a quota, could be difficult to defend.'
The law — or, more accurately, the raft of lawsuits it will most likely inspire — could have a chilling effect on genuine efforts by boards to seek more balance. Challenges to the law could make ever-cautious corporate legal departments reluctant to have company leaders publicly state diversity goals, for fear that those statements would be interpreted as quotas.

In other words, regardless of good intent, Brown's latest push for gender equality could do more harm than good. 

Other opponents of the law say it undermines women. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lucy Dunn, the president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council, finds the law insulting: 

'Rather than celebrate the competitive advantage women bring to positions of leadership in a company, it relegates them to placeholder status.'
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Does California's new law requiring women on boards help or hurt diversity?
#CaliBoostsDiversity
A festive crown for the winner
#CaliMadeThingsWorse